Sport delegations representing North and South Korea met with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Friday in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss further cooperation between the two at-war nations.
Among the topics discussed at the high-level tripartite working group meeting was a possible joint Korean bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement released after the parties spent more than two hours discussing a bid, as well as the possibility of fielding additional unified teams at qualifying events ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“The discussions at the working meeting today are one further step showing how sport can once more make a contribution to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world,” Bach added.
“We have a good foundation to build on and make further progress ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“Sport will continue to build bridges and demonstrate the unifying power of the Olympic Games.”
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula thawed throughout 2018 after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to send athletes to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South. A unified team marched into the Olympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremony and a unified Women’s Ice Hockey team competed in the tournament.
On Monday the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) selected capital Seoul ahead of the southern port city of Busan to lead the bid in the South. On Friday Pyongyang was named as the North Korean lead, considered the only capable city with the infrastructure required to host events. A letter of intent to submit a joint bid has been delivered to the IOC.
In a statement, the IOC said it was prepared to provide any assistance that the two Koreas require to further develop the project, including lending expertise and accommodating joint working groups.
The IOC further commented that “the candidature process for 2032 has not yet started” and that “further discussions will continue in accordance with the candidature procedure open to all NOCs for hosting the Olympic Games 2032.”
Several other cities and countries have already expressed interest in bidding for the 2032 Games including Jakarta in Indonesia, Shanghai in China, Brisbane in Australia, Buenos Aires in Argentina, as well as India, Germany and Russia. The IOC won’t officially open the race until 2023 with a host city expected to be elected in 2025.
North Korea would have to address several formidable obstacles that would prevent the embattled nation from even being considered to host Olympic events. Issues with human rights and trade sanctions top the exhaustive list, and on Thursday the World Anti-Doping Agency declared North Korea’s lab non-compliant – a violation that could come with additional sanctions preventing its athletes from participating in the Olympics.
Kim Il-guk, President of the North Korea’s Olympic Committee and Minister of Physical Culture and Sport remained optimistic and said “The leaders of the two Koreas agreed that they intended to host the Olympic Games in 2032.”
“I am very moved and excited by the prospect of bidding together with South Korea. We agree with the concepts put forward by South Korea, and ask for the support of President Bach and the IOC to jointly host the Olympic Games in Seoul and Pyongyang.”
South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Do Jong-hwan said “South Korea greatly hopes to jointly host the Olympic Games 2032 with North Korea, and will work to successfully bid for the Games together.”
“Moving forward from our successful collaboration for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we will continue to work closely with North Korea for a successful candidature to host the Games in Seoul and Pyongyang.”